LONDON (Reuters) - Britain should not favour financial services over other sectors of the economy as it negotiates its future trading relationship with the European Union after Brexit, Labour Party finance spokesman John McDonnell said on Thursday.
McDonnell said Conservative finance minister Philip Hammond had been wrong to suggest on Wednesday that parts of the TTIP trade agreement could be a model for future ties between Britain and the EU, as it favoured lawyers and big corporations.
“It is now clear that the government’s priorities are to win a deal for financial services first and then worry about the rest of the economy later,” he told the annual conference of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).
“There is no other reason to raise a specific deal for financial services, even if it is as bad and fantastical as proposed, while just last week refusing to negotiate a new customs union that would protect our manufacturing trade,” he added.
“We need a government that pays a little less time to the rentiers and speculators and more time for those who work in and out of businesses and run companies.”
Later, BCC director-general Adam Marshall said his group did not want to see different sectors of the economy pitted against each other, or widespread nationalisation.
“Make no mistake - the facile, breezy discussion on nationalisation under way on the hard left of the UK’s political spectrum is just as wrong-headed as the Brexit fantasy world inhabited by some on the hard right,” he told the conference.
Before last June’s general election, Labour said it would seek to bring train operators and water and energy utilities back into public ownership, and since then has said it wants to reduce the role of private contractors in providing public services.
Opinion polls show widespread support for nationalisation of railways and utilities.
The BCC said a nationalisation programme would undermine private pension savings, damage investment and reduce competition, and that it would be better to strengthen regulators.
Reporting by David Milliken and Andrew MacAskill; editing by Stephen Addison